A Tucson police officer’s state certification was revoked, and a Pima County sheriff’s deputy’s certification was suspended following investigations into two separate incidents that happened last year, records show.
On April 21, 2021, the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, which certifies law enforcement officers to work in the state, received a termination report from the sheriff’s department regarding Deputy Michael Canizales, AZPOST records say.
The incident in question happened on Jan. 10, 2021, when deputies were dispatched to the area of West Ruthrauff Road and North La Cholla Blvd. after receiving reports of a possible wrong-way driver. One caller told the dispatcher a car was driving west in the eastbound lanes while another caller said the driver of the vehicle appeared to be passed out, AZPOST records say.
When a deputy arrived on scene, he saw a dark colored Ford Fusion in the eastbound lane of Ruthrauff facing west. As he walked up to the passenger side of the car, the driver appeared to either be asleep or passed out, AZPOST records say.
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The deputy knocked on the window and announced himself several times in an attempt to wake up the driver. When Canizales opened the door, the deputy could smell a strong odor of intoxicants coming from him.
The deputy said Canizales appeared confused, his eyes were watery and bloodshot and he had trouble standing up. He then placed Canizales in handcuffs. He asked Canizales if he had been drinking, to which he replied, “you know,” AZPOST records say.
Canizales refused to complete any field sobriety tests and was later taken to a sheriff’s substation to continue field sobriety tests and attempt a blood draw, AZPOST records say. Canizales continued to refuse to submit to any sobriety tests but did submit a blood draw. The results of Canizales’ blood draw showed a 0.286 blood-alcohol concentration, AZPOST records say. In Arizona, a DUI charge can be received if the blood-alcohol concentration is above 0.08.
Canizales was arrested and charged on suspicion of aggravated DUI-wrong way driving while under the influence in the wrong lane, AZPOST records say.
On May 3 of this year, Canizales pleaded guilty to an amended count of driving or actual physical control while under the influence of liquor. He was placed on probation for a period of 18 months, AZPOST records say.
Canizales retired prior to the internal affairs investigation, AZPOST records say. In October, the AZPOST board suspended Canizales’ certification for two years effective April 16, 2021.
Officer’s certification revoked
On Nov. 22, 2021, AZPOST received a termination report from Tucson Police Department regarding Officer Paul Lee. Lee had responded as a backup officer to a robbery call on June 23, 2021.
During the call, a TPD sergeant located a sweatshirt that possibly belonged to the suspect and Lee took pictures of it and collected it as evidence. Officers later learned there was a woman nearby who was possibly involved in the robbery and went to detain her, AZPOST records say.
After determining they did not need to speak to the women at that time, officers were instructed to release her. Lee then began speaking to her once she had been removed from the handcuffs and offered to buy her something to eat, AZPOST records say. Even though detectives did not wish to speak to her at that time, she was still a potential suspect in a robbery that happened earlier that day.
Lee took the woman in his patrol car to a nearby Jack in the Box where he bought them food. Since his body worn camera turned off due to low battery, it was never determined what happened after or at what point they parted ways, AZPOST records say. Lee never told a supervisor he was staying on duty later and never indicated he had taken the woman in his patrol car.
A few days later when a detective was compiling the documents necessary to issue the robbery case with the Pima County Attorney’s Office, he noticed the pictures of the sweatshirt were not in evidence and Lee had not authored a supplemental report to document his involvement in the case. The detective also reviewed his body worn camera and found the footage of the dinner, reporting it to a captain, AZPOST records say.
An Office of Professional Standards investigation also revealed that Lee had been dishonest about a prior job, which would have disqualified him from the hiring process, AZPOST records say. Lee resigned from TPD prior to being served with a notice of intent to terminate.
In October, the AZPOST board revoked Lee’s peace officer certification.
Jamie Donnelly covers breaking news for the Arizona Daily Star. Contact her via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org